Beatrice Wishart, Shetland MSP and Scottish Liberal Democrat, asked the Cabinet Secretary for Housing, during a portfolio questions session, to outline the action being taken to tackle island housing shortages. Ms Wishart highlighted that housing shortages disproportionately affect young people and is a significant factor in island depopulation.
A 2019 Scottish Government publication projected a future population fall of 2.2% in Shetland by 2041.
Ms Wishart visited the DITT Construction Ltd site at Gulberwick site last month, meeting industry workers and apprentices. Discussions included the challenges within the construction industry. During the summer shortages in cement, timber, steel and other construction materials were reported amid large demand abroad, with some materials costs increasing by as much as 30%.
After the question session Ms Wishart said:
“Housing plays a significant role in island depopulation. Where housing is unaffordable or simply not there, then people are forced out.
“I have heard from practically every area in Shetland that more housing is needed, especially for younger people and families. Not everyone wants to live in Shetland’s central belt either.
“Many young people leave the islands for education, and that is good, but if they want to come home to live and work and cannot afford high private rents or get on the housing ladder they will look to settle elsewhere.
“We then lose their skills and contribution to our communities. And so it goes on.”
Notes to Editors
The figure for the Scottish Government’s depopulation projection can be found here.
Ms Wishart’s question to the First Minister (Check against delivery): A shortage of housing is not just a rural issue but also an island one. What action is being taken to tackle island housing shortages which disproportionately affects young people and is a significant factor in island depopulation?